About the measles vaccine
Vaccine safety and monitoring and info for pregnant people and new parents
About the measles vaccine and where to get it:
The most common vaccine for measles is MMR, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. The MMR vaccine is very safe and effective. Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles; one dose is about 93% effective.
Children should receive two doses of MMR vaccine starting with the first dose at 12-15 months of age, and the second dose at 4-6 years of age or at least 28 days following the first dose.
Students at post-high school educational institutions
Students at post-high school educational institutions without evidence of measles immunity need two doses of MMR vaccine, with the second dose administered no earlier than 28 days after the first dose.
People who are born during or after 1957 who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine.
People 6 months of age or older who will be traveling internationally should be protected against measles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers more information on measles and international travel.
Very few people—about three out of 100—who get two doses of measles vaccine will still get measles if exposed to the virus. Experts aren’t sure why. It could be that their immune systems didn’t respond as well as they should have to the vaccine. But the good news is, fully vaccinated people who get measles are much more likely to have a milder illness. And fully vaccinated people are also less likely to spread the disease to other people, including people who can’t get vaccinated because they are too young or have weakened immune systems.
If you’ve had two doses of MMR vaccine, you don’t need a booster. CDC considers people who received two doses of measles vaccine as children according to the U.S. vaccination schedule protected for life.
Adults need at least one dose of measles vaccine, unless they have evidence of immunity. Healthy adults with one documented MMR vaccine are considered protected for life. If you are unsure of your vaccine history or just want peace of mind, it is safe to get another MMR vaccine. Health care workers should have two documented vaccines as proof of immunity.
If you're not sure whether you were vaccinated, talk with your doctor. More information about who needs measles vaccine.
- Call your doctor, nurse or clinic. If you need help finding a health care provider or if you don't have health insurance, call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or visit ParentHelp123 website.
If you don't have a healthcare provider:
- Visit www.vaccinefinder.org for pharmacies where you can get vaccinations. Select locations on the map to get details about any age restrictions (pharmacies may only be licensed to vaccinate specific age groups). Call ahead to make sure they have MMR in stock. There are fewer pharmacies that vaccinate young children and toddlers. Care Clinics at Bartell Drugs accepts walk-ins who are ages two and up.
For additional resources, visit our website at www.kingcounty.gov/findaclinic
Vaccine safety and monitoring:
Research has shown that the measles vaccine (MMR) is safe. Getting vaccinated is much safer than getting any of the three diseases the vaccine protects against.
You can get more information on the safety of the MMR vaccine from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Vaccines are tested before they're licensed for use. Once a vaccine is in use, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration always monitor the vaccine to make sure it’s safe and effective.
Like any medication, the measles vaccine (MMR) may cause side effects. Most are mild:
- Pain at the injection site
- Mild rash
- Swollen glands in the cheek or neck
No, the weakened virus in the MMR vaccine is not able to be passed from someone who has just been vaccinated to another person.
For pregnant people and new parents:
Pregnant people should not get the MMR vaccine. pregnant people who need the vaccine should wait until after giving birth. Women should avoid getting pregnant for four weeks after getting the MMR vaccine.
The recommendation for babies is to get the first of two doses of MMR at 12-15 months of age. The second dose, usually given at 4-6 years, will provide full protection for your child.
Infants depend fully on the immunity of the community around them for protection If parents or caregivers haven't gotten the MMR vaccine or had measles in the past, they should get vaccinated. It's important to make sure people who are around your new baby do not expose your baby to measles – and other diseases like whooping cough – that your baby is too young to be vaccinated against. This includes siblings, who should also be up-to-date on all their childhood vaccines for their own protection and to protect the baby. You may also want to consider delaying travel to areas where there are current outbreaks until the outbreak is over or your baby is old enough for vaccination.
For updates on the outbreak in Washington state, go to doh.wa.gov/measles.